Stockton assemblyman proposes tax-free back-to-school shopping week

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STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) — Pre-pandemic, families going back-to-school shopping spent around $700 on average, according to lawmakers.

Newly-elected Assemblyman Carlos Villapudua’s first piece of legislation is proposing a new policy to reduce that price tag.

“I’m just trying to put myself in their shoes, you know, in the educators’ shoes and the parents’ shoes and the teachers’ shoes and trying to make their life a little easier,” the District 13 assemblyman said.

Assembly Bill 219 would establish a tax-free back-to-school shopping week before the school year. Clothes, shoes, school supplies and some electronics would not be taxed before the school year begins.

“This is really geared for folks that are in need and let me tell you, the timing for this is perfect,” Villapudua said.

If passed, California would join 17 other states across the country that offer a tax-free holiday that ranges from three to seven days.

Meanwhile, the Tax Foundation, an independent nonprofit organization that analyzes tax policies, said tax-free holidays are little more than a policy gimmick.

“Unfortunately, sales tax holidays don’t actually promote the economic growth that people think they do and they don’t do much to increase purchases,” said policy analyst Janelle Cammenga. “Studies show that they just end up shifting the timing of those purchases and don’t end up changing things overall.”

Cammenga said, in general, tax-free holidays aren’t targeted and don’t provide enough meaningful relief for those who need it most.

“It’s not the best way to give them help because those with high incomes can take just as much advantage of the sales tax holidays as those with low incomes, if not even more because they can make larger purchases,” she said.

She added when it comes to tax-free holidays, “they tend to distract from real and lasting tax reform.”

But Villapudua argued that every dollar saved is worth it.

“I don’t want to put any boundaries on it, because the people that need it, are going to use it, people that can afford it, they won’t even think twice,” he said.

If passed, AB 219 wouldn’t go into effect until 2022, and then the tax-free week would continue every year.

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